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Penguins Report: Game Day at Toronto

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

  • Michelle gives you the scoop on tonight’s game in video form (2:16 PM).
  • Staal out with lower-body injury; Johnson starts in net (12:39 PM).
  • Pens lines (11:44 AM).
  • Staal doesn’t make trip to Toronto (11:42 AM).
  • Scouting the Leafs (9:10 AM).
  • JS and I invade the HHOF (4:39 PM).
  • Coach Bylsma on Sullivan, Letestu & Leafs (1:02 PM).
  • Neal and Park spit knowledge (3:03 PM).
  • Civic Arena destruction & memories (9:25 AM).
  • Pens pics from ACC (1:09 PM).
  • Leafs pics form ACC (11:00 AM).
  • The ACC welcomes us (10:25 AM).
  • Hockey player key chains (5:01 PM).
  • Cardboard Orpik’s antics (9:20 AM).
  • “It’s better to burn out than to fade away…” (9:00 AM).

5:01 PM:
Found these babies in the HHOF gift shop.

Did anyone else collect these key chains as a kid? I wanted one goalie and one player from every team. My goals were much simpler back then.

4:39 PM:
So after the morning skate, Pens PR master Jason Seidling (part of @PensPRLady) and I took a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Here are some pics from our adventure. Tune in tonight to Michelle Crechiolo's in-game blog to see all the rest of the pics!!

The Entrance (left); Brian Hayward's famous "Shark Mask" (right)

Mario Lemieux's HOF display (left); And no Hall of Fame display is complete without a Corn Flakes box (right)

Lemieux's jersey from Laval (left); Lemieux eyes up his blade (right)

Retro jerseys (left); Joey Mullen's sticks, skates and gloves (right)

Do you believe in miracles? YES!!! (left); Retro banners (right)

Pens website: making history since 2002 (left); Trophy display and beautiful ceiling (right)

Two of my idols as a little boy: Post-Gazette beat writer Dave Molinari (left) and Pens radio play-by-play announcer Mike Lange (right)

3:03 PM:
PensTV caught up with James Neal [who enters tonight's game tied for the league lead in goals (9) with Toronto's Phil Kessel] and Richard Park:



2:16 PM:
Hi everyone, Michelle Crechiolo here making a guest appearance in Sam's blog. I've got your Verizon Game Day Report from the studio at CONSOL Energy Center with more on Jordan Staal and what else to expect from tonight's game. Please excuse my awkward hand motions!

1:09 PM:
Pics from the ACC...

The Pens twiddle their thumbs in boredom while the zamboni cleans the ice (left); Deet da dee (right)

A puck got stuck in Charlotte's net - top of the pic (left); Johnson looks to the Hockey Gods for strength in his start tonight (right)

Some Kris Letang photos: Skating (left); Talking to Real Brooks Orpik (right)

Gather round ye nobles (left); Fleury and Johnson play catch. It's just like "Field of Dreams"...except on ice...and with goalies...using a stick instead of throwing...and with a puck instead of a baseball...and, ah forget it (right)

1:02 PM:
Coachspeak with Dan Bylsma…

On the team’s hot start:
Part of it has been special teams. It’s allowed us to have success. Our power play has gotten some timely goals. Our penalty killing has been outstanding. Combine that and our goaltending from Marc-Andre (Fleury) and Brent Johnson has been fantastic. That’s allowed us to have a lot of success. Coming out of camp and carrying over from last season, our team has a good understanding of how we need to play to try to have success. That’s given us a chance to have success and win hockey games, and we’ve done that.

On lineup changes with Staal out:
Mark Letestu will go in and he’ll be in on the power play. He’ll be in some significant spots. He’ll play a big role for us. Brent Johnson will be playing in goal as well.

On Steve Sullivan being due a goal:
He’s overdue. Steve has been a great addition to our team both power play wise back at the point and when he’s been out there with Malkin and Neal he’s added playmaking and smart plays. He’s been around the cage a ton the last five games. He’s probably rolled his eyes six or seven times with some of the opportunities he’s had. He’s going to find the back of the net a bunch for us this year. What he’s been adding has been dramatic for us, especially that line.

On what he wants from Letestu tonight:
Mark probably hasn’t made too many mistakes when he’s played. He needs to be better at where he’s good which is making offensive plays, adding skill. He’ll get a chance to do that tonight on the power play and a lot of that is puck battles as well. He has to win puck battles in the offensive zone, on the power play, in the faceoff circle. He can be effective. That’s where he’s looking to add.

On the Maple Leafs:
It goes back to last year when we saw them in this building when they were pushing to make the playoffs. They have a lot of speed in their game right now. They forecheck extremely hard. Their forwards hunt pucks. The neutral has a lot of speed. They have four lines that play that way. They get the puck up really quick. Their speed is a factor for the forward unit. That’s something when you watch on tape is evident in their game right now. It goes back to last year, Lupul’s addition. Their four lines can play that type of game and be factors. That’s what we’ve seen and that’s what we’re facing tonight. That’s what we’ll have to deal with.

On why Johnson will start:
We’ve played a lot of hockey games in the month of October, 13. Brent is capable and hasn’t lost in regulation yet. He’s played well for us. He’s going to be playing tonight.

12:39 PM:
HC Dan Bylsma just said Staal has a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. As mentioned in the 11:42 a.m. entry, Staal did not make the trip with the team and will not play tonight.

"It's lower body and day-to-day," Bylsma said. "He wasn't going to play in this game, which is why he's not here. ... I don't have that concern at this time (that it will be long term). Well see returning to practice on Monday."

Bylsma confirmed that the injury occurred in Staal's hit with Islanders Tavares.

The Pens coach also said that Brent Johnson gets the start in goal tonight.

11:44 AM:
Here are the Pens' lines with Staal missing:


11:42 AM:
Jordan Staal is not on the ice for the Pens' morning skate. He did not make the trip to Toronto and will not be playing tonight.

11:00 AM:
Leafs morning skate pics...

I believe it says Toronto Maple Leafs at centre ice, but I don't read so good upside down so I could be wrong (left); Sidney Crosby and Dion Phaneuf look for a comfortable spot to watch the morning skate...wait, shoudn't Phaneuf be on the ice?! (right)

Is Leafs coach Ron Wilson holding a hockey stick? Or a Sceptre of Truth?

It looks like there is a Monster in net. Quick kill it...or feed it cookies (left); Kessel sings "Put my hand up on my hip, when I dip you dip we dip..." (right)

10:25 AM:
The Pens just arrived at Air Canada Centre. A pretty hospitable place, and welcoming.

9:25 AM:
Speaking of exclusive footage, Pens fans are all aware that Civic Arena is in the process of being torn down. Here are a few pics of the process. It's kind of like seeing the Coliseum in ruins, you know what it's supposed to look like, but it's only a shell of its former self.

In honor of Civic Arena's lasting memory, this week's Pens Vault aired a tribute video to the old barn. Take a look:

9:20 AM:
As you might of already read yesterday, the Pens have another injury scare as Cardboard Brooks Orpik went down at practice after blocking a shot with his ankle. Ben Lovejoy thinks he's out 4 to 6 weeks, but we haven't heard anything official. Pens Nation collectively holds its breath waiting to get details from the X-ray.

PensTV was there to catch the injury. Here is the exclusive footage:

9:10 AM:
For the deets on the Maple Leafs, Michelle Crechiolo has it all scouted out for you here. And if you want to Meesh's soothing voice, click the video below for the cliff notes:

9:00 AM:
Good morning from Toronto! Tonight the Pens will battle the Maple Leafs for the first time this season. Pittsburgh is coming off a home-and-home sweep against the NY Islanders and riding a five-game winning streak. The team hopes to keep that going this evening in the Air Canada Centre.


Today let's kick off the day with Toronto native and music legend Neil Young, one of the best songwriters of all time. The man has left a legacy of brilliance in music and has influenced countless musicians, including early 90s groups Nirvana and Pearl Jam.

Here is a live performance of Young's "My My Hey Hey" from the 1985 Farm Aid concert, a benefit that helped raise money for American farmers. Young was one of the men who helped organize the benefit. Rock 'n roll will never die.


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